this guy evidently hired to work for AD
|Head Coach, Iowa|
|Assistant HC & OL Coach w/ Baltimore||1993-1999|
|HC @ Maine||1990-1992|
|OL Coach @ Iowa||1981-1989|
|"academic all-Yankee Conference linebacker" at then lower-division UConn.|
Three years ago, Kirk Ferentz was a folk hero in Iowa, NFL teams were stabbing each other just to get an interview with the guy, and if you had told a Michigan fan he would be the man to take over from Lloyd Carr, he would laugh gleefully then punch you for getting his hopes up. Ferentz had just completed a remarkable turnaround, taking a moribund Iowa program that went 1-10 in his first year to the BCS and finishing #8 three consecutive years.
Iowa promptly made Ferentz one of the highest-paid coaches in the land; Ferentz returned the favor by going one game over .500 the next three years. Michigan fans still want to punch people at the idea of Ferentz as the new coach, but for entirely different reasons.
The de rigueur Stassen comparison is not as flattering to Ferentz -- the decade before his arrival saw Iowa win at a 57% clip, good for around 40th nationally -- because he had the misfortune to directly succeed Hayden Fry, a Hall of Fame coach who was Iowa's version of Bo. Most of the other guys this series has considered were preceded by literal losers; that's why they got the job.
Ferentz walked into an unusual situation at Iowa, directing a program with a history of success that had fallen on hard times as the previous coach held on too long. This may sound familiar. (Michigan's situation is far less of a disaster -- Fry went 3-8 his last season.) How should we judge his tenure? It's hard to assign blame for either of his first two years, in which Iowa bottomed out at 1-10 and 3-9, but going 7-5 in your third year is not a huge accomplishment at a place like Iowa, even if the previous two years were ugly. Iowa's a 7-5 kind of program, long term, and that's an average performance.
No one questions the next three years, when Brad Banks and Drew Tate built Iowa into a burgeoning Big Ten power as Penn State fell off the radar; everyone questions the most recent three. Ferentz does have some good excuses: the last two years Iowa was injury- and discipline-wracked on the same level Michigan safeties were during the Year of Infinite Pain. Check this midseason assessment out from Black Heart, Gold Pants:
Anyway, this weekend, Iowa is without the following elements of the team, all of whom were '07-eligible on campus the middle of the spring semester:
- Starting WR Dominique Douglas
- Starting WR Andy Brodell
- Starting TE Tony Moeaki
- Starting LT Dace Richardson
- Second-string OL Alex Kanellis
- Second-string OL Rob Bruggeman
- Second-string WR Anthony Bowman
- Third-string TB Shonn Greene
- Third-string OL Clint Huntrods
- Starting FS Devan Moylan
- Starting MLB Mike Klinkenborg
- Second-string FS Marcus Wilson
- Second-string CB Justin Edwards
- Second-string DT Ryan Bain
- Third-string CB Amari Spievey
All but three (Moeaki, Moylan, Col. Klink) are gone for at least the rest of the season. Most will never play another snap for Iowa.
At this point three other as-of-yet unnamed players were being held out despite Iowa's severe need because of an ongoing sexual assault investigation, so that's a total of 18 kids Iowa did not have at its disposal. Throw in a new starting quarterback and it's pretty obvious why Iowa's offense was 117th in the country.
Digression: midway through the first quarter of the Oregon-Arizona game I thought to myself "Chip Kelly is a genius." Then Dennis Dixon, apparently already playing on a torn ACL, took the wrong step and exited from the season. Oregon since: negative seventy points, negative six trillion yards.* Sometimes it really is out of your hands as a coach. Sometimes you've just got Brady Leaf and... like... damn, dude, what do you do?
But to go 6-6 when you have 4 nonconference gimmes and no Michigan or Ohio State is beyond explanation. And in 2006 a senior Drew Tate finally had a healthy Albert Young and the Hawkeyes still went 2-6 in the Big Ten. Yes, the receivers were young and the offensive line spotty and the defense banged up, but can we submit that anyone in is 8th year at a decent program like Iowa who is a great coach should not go 2-6 in the Big Ten?
Frustration is building at Iowa; when Ferentz' name first came up I quoted some BHGP frustration that sounded eerily familiar:
I mean, seriously, change some names and this BHGP passage could have been lifted verbatim from the comments of this blog during the Ohio State game:
We wasted the best front seven since 2004 on an offensive line which flat out refused to block anyone. We wasted the best running back tandem since Russell/Lewis on a quarterback who couldn't hit an open receiver and receivers who didn't catch the ball when he did. We wasted a tough, classy, downright professional group of seniors on a team filled with convicts and thugs and a coaching staff that was too f---ing stubborn to even attempt to fix the all-too-obvious problems.
Oh, oh, and this one:
Defenders of this coaching staff have repeatedly said, "the coaches put players in position to win, and it's the players' fault for not performing." Assuming (I think incorrectly) that this system would actually lead to success, it's the job of the coaches to prepare these players both schematically and technically. If the players are unable to perform effectively in otherwise correct schemes, the players must be more technically sound, the players must be replaced by those who can perform, or the schemes must be adjusted to account for a lack of talent/knowledge.
Initial promise, disappointing recent results, an epic swath of disciplinary and injury problems, outdated strategy, and a prim propriety in public? Lloyd Carr clone, come on down.
Xs and Os Proficiency: Ferentz has never been a coordinator on any level, leaping from offensive line coach to head coach twice without any intermediate stops along the way. So this is mostly a "not applicable."
Anyone who's watched Iowa can see the philosophical similarities between the two programs: run the ball, play tough D, punt a lot, and for God's sake never take any risks whatsoever. The zone/waggle game had been a staple -- the staple -- of Iowa's offense for years when Michigan decided to implement it, though Iowa tends to go
with guys with actual mobility.
Recruiting: Iowa, aside from the secret government lab where they breed the next generation of Inexplicably Great White Wide Receivers, is decidedly unfertile recruiting territory, and Iowa does not have the sort of national pull a Michigan or Nebraska -- which did shockingly well with recruits from all over in the Callahan here -- does. And it shows in the recruiting rankings (all from Rivals):
- 2002: 51st
- 2003: 43rd
- 2004: 38th
- 2005: 11th(!)
- 2006: 40th
- 2007: 28th.
I wouldn't put much weight in these, as recruiting rankings begin to have very low fidelity as you get down into the three stars, of which there are a million of differing abilities. The general trend is mediocre save for that anomalous 2005 class, which was gathered at the height of Ferentz mania. Ty Willingham was abdicating Notre Dame's class, the Zooker was yet to land at Illinois, and there was a bumper crop of highly rated Chicagoland recruits. Most of them ended up at Iowa. It was a perfect storm of circumstance that the subsequent years have proven does not reveal any particular skill on Ferentz' part. He's done okay considering Iowa's circumstances, but is unlikely to improve on Carr's recruiting at Michigan. (Not that Carr was bad at recruiting; he was pretty good. But this is not a particular asset for Ferentz.)
Potential Catches: There are many. From the perspective of the fan: he's one damn game above .500 the last three years and has a severe case of Lloydballs. Not as severe as the man himself -- let's all remember the Brad Banks era -- but he has many of the same flaws Lloyd does: stubborn loyalty to failing coordinators who happen to be friends, a tendency towards extreme predictability, a team-harming aversion to risk.
From the perspective of an athletic department that evidently thinks very little of its fans and wants a "Lloyd Carr clone": 10% of Ferentz's team was arrested for Serious Business this year. Since 2003, Iowa has suffered a 42% attrition rate. Ferentz' son availed himself of taxpayer subsidized housing for the poor; Ferentz refused to speak about it publicly.
For every rumor out there about Les Miles' supposed lack of morals, there's a kid who's left Iowa's team for being a hooligan. But Miles is the guy with "character issues" because said something mean or wrong or impolite about Carr. Our athletic department's priorities are awesome.
Relative Compensation: This has been discussed ad nauseam: Ferentz makes somewhere between 2.6 and 3.4 million a year depending on how you figure the bonuses. He's insanely expensive.
Would He Take The Job? This was extremely doubtful earlier in the year but as the rumors persist it begins to seem more plausible. It's still doubtful, though. First Michigan would have to match his steep pay package, numbers which would make it possible to hire Les Miles and undoubtedly outrage fans, alumni, and the big-baller donors Michigan is banking on to fill the luxury suites currently under construction. Then Ferentz would have to leave Iowa, a place he likes very much, on the verge of his son's commitment there.
It still appears doubtful.
Overall Attractiveness: Ferentz would not be a disaster of a hire, but he would be a disappointing one. He's no more moral than dozens of coaches across the country. He's increasingly incapable of keeping the kids he recruits under control. He lost to Iowa State and Western Michigan this year. He represents the closest thing to an extension of the Carr era available out there, something which may be attractive to Sailboat Bill Martin but is an anathema to anyone who actually remembers the Appalachian State game earlier this year.
The opportunity represented by the Carr retirement is to take the program in a different direction. Michigan has stagnated, allowing Ohio State to pass it both off the field and on. Ohio State has better facilities, has won six of seven against Michigan, and has fewer disciplinary problems. The Horror was supposed to be a wakeup call inside the department and amongst the heavy movers; Ferentz represents the snooze button, especially if his hiring is contingent upon retaining certain key assistants who have done nothing to suggest they are capable of coaching out of a wet paper bag.
As an insanely expensive backup plan, Ferentz is fine. The program is unlikely to fall apart under his watch. At Michigan he'll have the talent and depth to beat Western; he won't put up with Michigan's stone age strength and conditioning program, and he's likely to have a level of success comparable to Carr over the long haul. And that's not bad.
As a primary option, Ferentz is indicative of a diseased thought process that hasn't watched the past three years. Lloyd Carr was a very good coach, but the emphasis is on was. It's over. "Eff you, try to stop us, oops you did let's punt" is over. Ohio State has raised. Picking Ferentz is, essentially, folding.
Better than Debord? YES YES A THOUSAND TIMES YES
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Tom Dienhart probably killed a few people with this baby:
From the talk I'm hearing from my sources, it looks like there is a leading man for the Michigan job now that LSU's Les Miles is out of the picture: Ball State coach Brady Hoke.
Hoke played at Ball State (1977-80) but he worked at Michigan from 1995-2002 as a defensive ends and defensive line coach under Lloyd Carr. His last year in Ann Arbor, Hoke added the title of associate head coach.
Hoke has coached the Cardinals the last five years, compiling a 22-36 mark. But he has the program rising, as Ball State is playing in its first bowl (International vs. Rutgers) since 1996.
Dienhart is wrong, has been wrong, and will be wrong in the future. He was the guy who started the inexplicable "what about Bielema!" thing; though he's nice enough to link to a blog he's got a track record of being hideously wrong about this stuff. Pay it no mind.
Nobody's emailed to say Hoke isn't a candidate, but then again no one has emailed about Jason Whitlock or David Letterman, fellow Ball State alums with an equal chance of being Michigan's next head coach.
The reason Miles couldn't get ahold of Martin on Saturday: Martin was on a sailboat. !!!
Obviously, if that's true Martin should be shot into the sun but I find that very, very doubtful.
Carty in the AA News:
Miles had no idea if Michigan really wanted him.
So Bass [Miles' agent] decided to ask.
He said he called Martin's cell phone on Friday and left a message. He just wanted to know where Miles stood.
Then, when he didn't hear back, the agent said he called Martin again.
"The (LSU) deal was so good that we couldn't just wait," Bass said via phone Tuesday. "I didn't know if we were one of the candidates in the pool at that time. There was just no communication."
Where was Martin? One source places him in Florida, at the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo. Wherever he was, he didn't call back.
This is incompetence of staggering proportions. If Martin was a president, he would be William Henry Harrison. If he was a world-changing invention, he would be a Segway. If he was a football coach, he would be Charlie Weis.
The current face-saving explanation is that Martin is playing Ferentz and Miles off each other, hoping one will jump at a lowball offer loaded with incentives. When even the face-saving explanation paints you as a fool willing to let one million dollars per year jeopardize the well-being of an entire athletic department, you screwed up. Michigan's chances at landing Miles are now much weaker than they were a week ago, and it's because Martin blew the most important decision in Michigan athletics since 1969. Because he was on a damn boat too busy to return a phone call.
He has a chance to make good with an excellent hire; anything short of that and he should be run out of town on a rail.
Two sources . . .
Have now told me that Kirk Ferentz is at the top of Michigan's list of coaching candidates.
Members of Michigan's search committee leaked today that Ferentz has been made priority No. 1. Lloyd Carr, who's retiring after 13 seasons at Michigan, is pushing for Ferentz, a source said. He has a say in this. Mary Sue Coleman, UM's president and the UI president when Ferentz was hired at Iowa, has a say in this. That's according to logic, by the way.
For those concerned about bloggy stuff, Mark Morehouse is a sportswriter for an Iowa paper. For those concerned about the Ferentz's-agent angle, Morehouse makes it clear this is coming from Michigan's end. For those just plain concerned, well... yeah.
Stunning, probably wrong graph:
Ferentz makes $2.84 million at Iowa, and that's guaranteed through 2012 (that's $14.2 million over the next five years). Michigan knows it's going to take between $3.5 and $4 million to get in the ballpark, with a lot of coaches, not just Ferentz.
This does not jive with the "insulting" offer provided Miles unless this whole fiasco was downright deliberate.
|Head Coach, Navy|
|Head Coach @ I-AA Georgia Southern||1997-2001|
|OC @ Navy||1995-1996|
|OC @ Hawaii||1987-1994|
|OC @ Georgia Southern||1985-1986|
Paul Johnson has carved a winner out of moribund Navy, a grand accomplishment in this era of college football. Navy the ten years before Johnson's arrival:
After an ugly 2-10 first year, Navy has gone 8-5, 10-2, 8-4, 9-4, and is currently 8-4 with the Poinsettia Bowl pending. The last time Navy had five consecutive winning season was 1978-1982, and before that you have to go back to the sixties. Johnson's 6-0 against Army -- the first six-game winning streak in that rivalry's history -- and 5-1 against Air Force. Navy does not suck.
Johnson's record at Georgia Southern is even more impressive. In his five years with the Eagles, Johnson won five conference titles, four national coach of the year awards, and two national titles. He won 86% of his games and turned around a program that had gone 4-7 the year previous; Johnson's first year at GSU resulted in a 10-3 season, the program's best since 1989.
Xs and Os Proficiency: Johnson's specialty is offense, and he's worked wonders with limited talent by taking advantage of what military academy players do have: smarts and discipline. At Navy, Johnson's triple option attack has consistenly landed the Middies in the top 30 in offense, an accomplishment all the more impressive when you consider the game-shortening that naturally occurs when you run the ball all the damn time. At Georgia Southern and Hawaii he lit up scoreboards as well.
The question here is the same that dogged Urban Meyer before his arrival at Florida: can this offense work against top-flight defenses? In Meyer's case, the answer appears to be "as long as you have a robotic hulk-beast that devours all in its path, sure!"
Recruiting: The great unknown with Johnson, as he's never coached at a place that we can gather any data about.
Potential Catches: Ah, but so. Johnson has done all this with a pounding triple option ground attack that hasn't been seen at a major college program since Nebraska made the infinitely wise decision to hire Bill Callahan.
A host of other BCS programs have looked at Johnson but fled the risk of a system often regarded as antiquated, and they aren't nearly as married to the idea of Paul Bunyan on the pocket as Michigan is. The current QBs on the Michigan roster: 6'7" statue Ryan Mallett, 6'5" statue Steven Threet, and 6'5" statue David Cone. The current Michigan QB recruit: 6'5" statue John Wienke. Johnson just wouldn't be able to run his system for two to four years.
Johnson has a history of sniping at the press, too, which no doubt disqualifies him. I heard Belicheck once forgot to feed his cat, so he's out, too.
Also, the guy has a masters degree from Appalachian State.
Relative Compensation: Michigan could easily afford Johnson, but he's a hot name this offseason with SMU and Duke rumored to be pursuing him heavily, SMU with a $2 million per year offer. Michigan would probably have to match that.
Would He Take The Job? Yes.
Overall Attractiveness: Johnson looks to be an outstanding coach. You can't have his results and not be exceptional at what you do; he's working at one of the toughest jobs in the country right now and outperforming all reasonable expectations for what an academy can do in this era of college football. Before that he dominated a lower division much like Jim Tressel and Brian Kelly did.
But he's too much of a risk for Michigan. We have no idea if he can recruit or if his offense can function at a high level, and we know damn well that his offense can't work with Michigan's roster as currently composed. It's not that Johnson can't succeed running something else, but one of his main assets is this clever triple option thing that he's spent better than a decade perfecting; he's much less attractive without that.
It's not really the triple option that bothers me. I kind of like the idea of having an offense unique in major college football, as it would make Michigan (gasp!) difficult to prepare for. But the unsuitability of the current roster to run it would make the first three or four years of implementing it painful, and at 50 Johnson does have enough long term upside to justify the risk. Hiring him to run something else is silly, the equivalent of Notre Dame fans quickly backtracking and saying "wait, Charlie just needs to learn how to be a COLLEGE coach!" when the thing that set him apart was his brilliant NFL mind and his contacts and blah blah blah.
Johnson's a good, maybe great, coach, but a poor fit at Michigan. If I was Maryland or Michigan State or Ole Miss or any hopefully mid-level BCS program, though, he would be top of the list.
Better that Debord? YES YES A THOUSAND TIMES YES